In my last blog post, I extolled the virtues of having a house inspected by a private home inspector before it's even listed for sale. To piggyback on that topic, I'd like to give some advice to home sellers on how to get the most out of their required Truth-In-Sale of Housing (TISH) evaluation.
Not familiar with TISHs? A TISH evaluation, also known as a Point of Sale inspection, is basically a condensed version of a home inspection where a licensed TISH evaluator conducts an evaluation of a home in accordance with a set of standards that have been set forth by the city. Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and eleven other larger inner-ring cities here in the Twin Cities require TISH evaluations on homes before they can even be listed for sale. Click here for a list of cities. Saint Paul's program is a disclosure-only evaluation, whereas Minneapolis and most other cities have a long list of items that would need repair if deemed unsafe.
When I say this is a condensed home inspection, I mean it's an extremely basic, abbreviated, and cursory inspection. For TISH evaluations, we don't walk roofs or even lean our ladders against the eaves, we don't open electric panels, we don't perform any type testing on furnaces, we don't use moisture meters, we don't enter crawl spaces... and the list goes on. As it says right on every TISH evaluation, "This is not a Buyer's Inspection!"
Research your city
Before your TISH evaluation, do a little research about what the TISH requirements are for the city you live in. For example, I've put together lists of the most common TISH repair items for Minneapolis, Hopkins, Bloomington, Robbinsdale, and South Saint Paul. If you live in one of those cities, download my list for your city, go through it, then inspect your own house yourself and fix any obvious problems.
I did a news story with CBS news a few weeks ago, covering some of the most common repair items found during a TISH evaluation, which can be viewed here: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2015/02/03/a-home-inspectors-tips-for-owners-looking-to-sell/
When scheduling your TISH evaluation, try to plan a time when you can attend. When the TISH evaluation happens, ask questions as the TISH evaluator goes through the house. Many TISH evaluators will treat the TISH evaluation like a mini home inspection, oftentimes pointing out stuff that any good home inspector might raise red flags about. When this happens, home sellers view the TISH evaluation as a positive experience, and they appreciate the insight that an experienced home inspector can share.
Who to hire
That's easy; hire the best TISH evaluator you can find. Some real estate agents refer business to TISH evaluators who are known to miss a lot of problems with houses, because they like their sellers to have clean reports. They say these evaluators are easier on the houses. It's unfortunate, because a TISH evaluation is supposed to be very black and white. Us TISH evaluators are given a specific set of things that we're supposed to evaluate, and we're told exactly how to report on these things. When we don't put stuff in our reports, I don't call it being "easier on the house"; I call it negligence, laziness, incompetence, or something like that... but it has nothing to do with being nice.
A TISH evaluator who misses a bunch of stuff that should go into the report is doing a disservice to the seller, the buyer, and the entire TISH program. Sure, a clean TISH evaluation report might make a home more attractive to a potential home buyer, but here's what happens when that buyer hires their own private home inspector and they find out that there are a bunch of defects with the house that probably should have been identified by the TISH evaluator:
- The buyer now needs to decide if this is still the right house.
- The buyer may decide to ask for a price reduction, ask the seller to make repairs, or both.
- The real estate agents scramble to keep the deal together.
- The seller is stuck scrambling to get bids and fix stuff at the last minute. Stuff that could have been taken care of a long time ago.
- Everyone involved in the transaction loses confidence in TISH evaluations, lowering public opinion of the entire program.
There's not a big difference in price between TISH evaluators. The last time I checked, there was about a $30 - $40 price difference between the most expensive and the cheapest folks in town.
You'll get out of a TISH what you put into it. If a home seller treats a TISH evaluation as a necessary evil and a hurdle to selling their home, they'll probably spend way too much time shopping around for the cheapest inspector in town, and the service they get will be reflective of that. If a home seller follows my advice and gets the most out of their TISH evaluation, it'll be a worthwhile service that the seller is satisfied with.
Related News: Eden Prairie is considering adopting a Point of Sale inspections program: http://kstp.com/article/stories/s3707383.shtml